Review of “As Worlds Collide” (2016)
Stephen Michell (writer).
Read in 2021.
Fantastic creatures from Greek mythology appear in the modern world.
Reading this story inspired me to write Sutter’s Cloud, but the story does not deal with science fiction and offers no explanation for the supernatural, not even a bad one. The eyecatching thing about “As Worlds Collide” is that Michell bravely attempts to bridge three different territories, rather like H. P. Lovecraft in his Dreamlands:
- Uninterrupted everyday life with coffee, email and Youtube.
- Anthropocentric fabulism about “something greater” than everyday life.
- Non-anthropocentric extrapolation where the supernatural comes to global public knowledge, humans investigate it, and humans are peripheral in the cosmos.
Alas, anthropocentric fantasy has the upper hand. Michell includes all the conventional landmarks: A strong sense of purpose, pageantry (satyrs enlivening a wedding), whimsy (pegasi), even the gods saying they’ve come “for you”, that is for people’s sake, even though Michell later settles for the opposite conclusion.
The cosmicism is tacked on and the climactic hunting scene has too little of the numinous. In particular, although Michell—again bravely!—describes the academic reaction at length, that reaction makes very little sense. There’s a new department of astrology, and campus is awash with bloggers looking for a scoop.